08/14/2012 11:59 EDT | Updated 10/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Budapest's Glorious Ruin Pubs

When I first blogged about my upcoming trip to Budapest, a lovely reader named Tom commented and told me to be sure to check out the "ruin pubs."

They're exactly what you think they are -- abandoned buildings converted into pubs and artistic spaces.

Gritty enough for ya?

"The beginning of the 21st century was an exciting turning point in the nightlife of Budapest: in the central area of the city new places were opened one after another in tenement houses and factory buildings doomed to destruction. These were equipped with rejected furniture of old community centres, cinemas, and grandmothers' flats, bringing a retro feeling into these places." -

If you know anything about me, you'll know that I'm slightly obsessed with two things: abandoned places, and dive pubs. (See also: chocolate, facial hair on men, nachos, bookstores, and Greece.) So, ruin pubs? Ultimate. Destination. Ever.

Budapest has a crazy nightlife, as introduced to me by my Contiki guide. The booze is fairly cheap, Hungarians love to party, and Europeans seem to be JUST discovering how alive the city is. While we did meet a crapload of stag parties, their numbers were nothing compared to the stags we met in Prague.

We started at Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden), probably the most popular ruin pub. The place was packed with party-goers, some in weird disguises and others just breezing through. Nikki and I paused to take our photos in a lime green bathtub-turned-couch, and were immediately pounced on by a duo of Irish men from Belfast.


Photo credit: Candice Walsh

Other cool features: a table made from an old Trabant car, and an open-air cinema.

I don't remember where else we ended up (shocking, I know), but we danced until the early morning hours, I ended up pocketing a French guy's phone number (and having an entire French conversation with him, although I have my doubts it made much sense), and then slept for three hours before touring Parliament.

The nightlife in Budapest does not quit. Put on your drinking hat and get OUT there!